Resources Featuring Alistair’s Work
Folk Icons is a website that mainly focuses on Alistair’s ongoing partnership with the English fiddle maestro, Dave Swarbrick. News of Swarb’s other current projects, as well as the websites of several associated ‘icons of folk’ he’s worked with over the years, can also be found there.
The Roaring Jack Archives began as a fan’s tribute site for Alistair’s mid-eighties punk folk band Roaring Jack, but has now grown into a much-visited repository of rogue folk memorabilia. As well as links to interesting RJ related stuff, The Archives provides a chat line and info service for those who like their folk music fast, loud and furious, and also carries a mail order purchases page for buying Alistair Hulett albums Down Under.
Also at The Roaring Jack Archives is The Roaring Jack Blog
The Mudcat Café is a handy place to locate the lyrics of many of the traditional songs that Alistair has performed and recorded alongside his own compositions over the years. Its associated Digital Folk Song Data Base often provides melodies along with the texts. You could live for several months in this fascinating website.
Giving Voice Workshops seeks to stimulate and develop an understanding and appreciation of political song across all genres of song and music, nationally and internationally, current and past, from the far left to the far right. The work of Giving Voice Workshops is inspired by a belief in participatory learning, empowerment through inclusion, and an ethos of social justice for all.
The Music Well is an artist-run Internet radio station that also provides a mail order service for several of Alistair’s albums and occasionally plays tracks from them on its Billboard. The programmes on this station feature the best of the folk music being played around the festivals and folk clubs in Britain and Ireland today, as well as broadcasting instrument workshops from some of the artists involved in running the station.
Shite ‘n’ Onions features publications following Celtic punk. News, reviews and tour dates are available, as is the regular Shite ‘n’ Onions podcast.
Scallywag Radio Podcast with Barnacle Brian is another offshoot from the online fanzine Shite ‘n’ Onions that regularly plays Roaring Jack and Alistair Hulett albums.
Pure Brilliant Podcast is another US based station that has prominently featured Ally’s music over recent times. DJ Presenter Hugh Morrison is a Scot with excellent taste in all kinds of folk-based indie music and squeezebox player with the Texas band, Murder The Stout.
The following distributors supply Alistair Hulett’s CDs by mail and online order. Check their sites to find the outlet nearest to your own location for ease of postage and currency conversion.
Amazon Music Downloads [UK]
ISA Music [UK]
Four Dogs Music [UK and WorldWide]
Footstompin’ Celtic Music [SCO]
Musikfolk Limited [ENG]
The Living Tradition [UK]
Shite ‘n’ Onions [USA]
AK Press [USA]
Jump Up Records [GER]
People To People [GER]
Hamish Henderson Folk Club (IT)
Music Shops that stock Alistair’s albums include:
Red Eye Records [AUS]
Coda Music [SCO]
Marbecks Records [NZ]
Musicians Involved with Alistair Hulett
David Rovics from the USA is one of the most politically sharp and poetically gifted singer/songwriters around today. He and Alistair toured in the States together in 2006 and plan to do a double-header trip around the clubs and festivals of Australia in 2008.
Nuemmes is a communist street band from Berlin that is guaranteed to liven up any left wing demo anywhere.
Niamh Parsons along with her partner Graham Dunne form the Irish contingent of The Shamrock Thistle and Rose, featuring Alistair as resident thorn. Niamh has recorded three Hulett songs on her latest album. See Niamh’s discography for more details.
Nancy Kerr & James Fagan are the other two members of the Shamrock Thistle and Rose show that you’ll find reviewed in the Articles and Interviews section of this site. They have also included one of Ally’s songs on their latest release, making it two covers they’ve recorded so far.
For 50 plus years Roy Bailey has been one of the UK Folk & Acoustic scene’s most loved and admired performers.
Scots songwriter Karine Polwart combines the economy and universality of the folk storytelling tradition with a probing intellect and compassionate lyricism.
Check the Links page on The Roaring Jack Archives for a whole host of other excellent stuff to click on and enjoy.
A few words from Gavin Livingstone.
After Alistair arrived back in Glasgow in 1996, I was introduced to him by Mick West and together we formed a musician’s cooperative called The Song Factory along with Wendy Weatherby and Fraser Fifield.
In November of 1997, The Song Factory, along with The St Francis Pipe Band and The South Side Chorus, presented a show subsidised by the STUC at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow, entitled “Songs of the People” which incorporated some of Alistair’s songs, as well as traditional material. This was well received, and led to the show being done again at 1998’s Maydaze festival, albeit with Rod Paterson replacing Alistair who was touring at that time.
The Company then worked on Alistair’s next project – “A Ballad of John Maclean” which pre-empted Alistair’s “Red Clydeside” album, and incorporated much of the material that appeared on that CD. This played in November 1998 at The Arches theatre in Glasgow as part of the 75th anniversary of the death of John Maclean, and again garnered good reactions.
The last show that involved Alistair in The Song Factory with myself was “Ranters, Lovers and Chanters”, a celebration of the life of Robert Burns. This toured throughout Scotland in 1999 and even made a profit during a week-long run at the Edinburgh Festival!
Throughout this period, Alistair and I worked closely on songs and arrangements, leading to Alistair asking me if I would record his next solo album, “In Sleepy Scotland” at my studio in 2001. I played guitar and keyboards on some of the songs, and we formed a friendship and musical alliance that was to last the rest of his lifetime. During this year, Alistair was involved in the campaign to keep Govanhill swimming pool open, and this presented another opportunity for us to work together on many songs for the CD “Save Our Pool”, again recorded mainly at my studio.
Thereafter, Alistair and I often played together as a duo, mainly in small pub and club gigs, performing a mixture of original songs and mutually agreeable contemporary and traditional songs. This, in turn gave rise to some of the material on Alistair’s 2005 “Riches and Rags” album which was again recorded at my studio. I took a greater role instrumentally and vocally on this CD since I already knew some of the songs and arrangements, and was able to provide what Alistair called “fairy dust” for his great performances.
This didn’t always click, though, as I remember for Al’s song “Militant Red”. He told me that he wanted a “Clash type of attitude” on the song and I took that literally – recording drums, bass and spiky electric guitar. When Alistair heard the backing track, he was horrified and, in no uncertain terms, made me understand that it was a punk attitude to the arrangement that he envisaged, not a full blown punk track.
For the track “Old King Coal”, Al wanted an appalachian dulcimer on the track, so he hired one for a few days and asked me if I would learn to play it on the track – he demanded that others have the same high standards as himself! And, yes – it was done.
One other aspect of Alistair’s talent that I’ve not seen mentioned was the fact that he was a professional cocktail mixer in Australia, and I’ve witnessed him harnessing the same care and precision that was characteristic of his approach to his music to make some delightful and extremely potent concoctions!